Nighttime has a special light in the streets of the old town. The light –yellow, nostalgic, elegant- subtlety beautifies the monuments, softening the edges and contributing to Santiago’s timeless atmosphere.
It is well worth wandering around its streets, and coming across improvised shows in Plaza de Platerías, or street artists in Plaza de la Quintana… Or the saxophonist in Plaza del Obradoiro, whose music intensifies the square’s sensation of unreality, lightness and magnificence… Or the musicians underneath the Palacio de Xelmírez’s archway, whose perfect acoustics –profound and resonating- make you feel like sitting down in the makeshift amphitheatre of its stairs… Or the University Tuna musical group, present almost every evening underneath the Pazo de Raxoi’s arches and, at weekends during the winter and daily during the summer, in the street of O Franco and the surroundings, and also in San Paio de Antealtares, taking the city back, for a moment, to its mythical past with their singing: ‘Triste y sola / sola se queda Fonseca. / Triste y llorosa / queda la Universidad…’ (Sad and alone / Fonseca is left alone. / Sad and weeping / Is left the University…).
In Compostela there are perennial inhabitants, who only live during the night, like the pilgrim in Plaza de Quintana, who appears due to the casting of the Cathedral lightning rod’s shadow at the corner formed by the Berenguela tower and the Holy Door.
You should not miss staying for a while in Quintana square and observing the people coming and going, and listening to the Cathedral’s bells, which mark the night’s quarter-hourly rhythm. Sitting on the stairs, or on the stone bench running along the Monastery of San Paio de Antealtares’ façade, or in the pavement cafés, you will see that serenity and habitability are the unmistakable characteristics of historical cities.
The cityscape from Paseo da Ferradura, with the Cathedral standing out from the buildings in the night… or the opposite view, from Belvís Park, which covers all of the city’s southeast side, where you can imagine the home life of its inhabitants with lights being turned on and off… From this distance everything is pleasant, easy to understand… It is a cinema vision of the city.
These, and many more, are street images – unprogrammed and coincidental- that are worth investigating and which help us to understand not only Santiago de Compostela’s monumentality but also its daily life.